The idea of driving along towing a caravan may not seem too daunting a task until you encounter a situation where you have to reverse it which can happen a lot if you’re towing a caravan to caravan parks regularly. It’s obviously a lot easier if you have somebody to act as your guide in this situation and it’s important that you constantly use your mirrors – guide or not. Reversing a caravan isn’t something that comes naturally to drivers and it takes practice to perfect it. The important thing is to take your time.
Establish Some Communication Guidelines With Your Guide
It’s crucial that you settle on some mutually understandable terminology with your guide before attempting to reverse. The guide is the best placed person to help a driver to manoeuvre and will have the biggest field of vision. However, it’s no use screaming “this way” or “that way” and frantically waving your arms about as this is not going to help the driver. It doesn’t matter what terms or hand/arm signals you use as long as they are clearly understood by both driver and guide. For example, “towards me”, “away from me” or “straighten up” is much better than saying “this way” which might mean “that way” to the driver.
Turning The Caravan
The steering is one of the most confusing aspects of reversing a caravan. The most important thing to remember is that when reversing, the back of the caravan will always go the opposite way to the back of the car. Therefore, to reverse the caravan to the left, you need to turn the steering wheel to the right and vice versa.
If you’re simply reversing the caravan in a straight line, before you start, take a close mental picture of how your caravan appears in each of your wing mirrors. Then start reversing slowly. Obviously, your guide should be there to tell you that everything at the back is fine and that you’re not going to collide with a wall or something similar. But if you’ve no guide, keep stopping and getting out of the car to check how much spare room you still have left. As you’re reversing, keep checking the mirrors as you move. If the image of the caravan grows bigger in one mirror than it looked before you started the manoeuvre then gradually start turning the wheel towards the mirror which is reflecting the larger image to correct your path.
Reversing Around A Bend Or Corner
Firstly, if you’re in the UK driving a right-hand drive, it’s always going to be easier to reverse around a right-hand corner because you’re able to keep watching the caravan through your window. So, say for example you’re looking to reverse onto your pitch on a caravan park. Start off by positioning both your car and caravan in a straight line about 3 metres past your pitch. You’ll want your caravan to firstly move out to the left. To do this, turn your steering wheel one full turn to the right first, and then as you begin to reverse slowly, the caravan will naturally start curving towards the left. Once it’s done that, then turn the steering wheel in the opposite direction (to the left) two full turns and the back of the van will then move around to the right and then allow the caravan to continue along the line of the curve.
Looking at the tyres of the caravan and what they’re doing will help you more than looking at the back of the caravan. Stop if you feel you need to make minor adjustments. This isn’t a driving test and though fellow caravanners might be present and watching, don’t rush things. This is how bumps and collisions occur. Just make slow, small movements and the same with any adjustments and if you feel the angle between the car and the caravan is tightening or you’re in danger of jack knifing, just stop and move forward and try again.
Obviously, a good guide will make this procedure easier for you but always remember to survey your path on foot first, identifying any kerbs or low posts and their locations.
You’ll find that reversing a caravan becomes a lot easier the more practice you have. But if you intend towing a caravan onto a caravan park for the first time, it’s always a good idea to get hold of some cones then to find some open private land before you head off so you can practice reverse manoeuvres which will give you more confidence to tackle reversing once you head for the caravan park.